What makes these Thai Coconut BBQ Ribs so tender and flavorful is that they’re fully cooked a day ahead, and marinated overnight in a fantastic coconut-garlic-ginger-lemongrass marinade. Just before serving, all they need is 8 minutes on the grill to get them golden brown, juicy, tender and bursting with outstanding flavor. They are absolutely amazing!
When you recommend something too highly, there’s always the chance that people will expect too much and be disappointed, but I’m not worried about that here. With a Thai coconut milk marinade that includes garlic, ginger, lemongrass, brown sugar, soy sauce and shallots, the flavors are out of this world. The fact that you can do all the messy prep work in advance is an added bonus. I discovered this unique and wonderful BBQ ribs recipe in Bon Appetite magazine in 1995, and I haven’t stopped making them since.
HOW TO MAKE THAI COCONUT BBQ RIBS
My definition of a great recipe for entertaining includes that you can do all of the messy, difficult work the day before. In this case, the two racks of baby back ribs are cut apart, steamed, and marinated in the fridge overnight. Then all you have to do on the day of your dinner is throw the ribs on the grill for a few minutes before serving.
There’s a wonderful harmony of many complex flavors in the Thai Coconut BBQ Sauce – a quality that is prized in Thai Cuisine. Credit for this delicious BBQ Ribs recipe goes to Bon Appetite. I’ve tweaked the recipe only a tiny bit, adding jalapeño peppers for some bite, a tad more shallots, and an oven-steaming method for those who don’t have a stove-top steamer.
- Cut the 2 racks of baby back ribs apart into individual ribs, or ask your butcher to cut them for you.
- Steam the ribs until tender, about 20 minutes. This can be done on top of the stove in a conventional steamer or a pot with a steamer insert or you can steam the ribs in the oven in a foil-lined baking pan. See the recipe directions below for more details on how to rig up an oven or stovetop steamer.
- Marinate The Ribs Overnight: While the ribs are steaming, make the marinade by pureeing coconut milk, cilantro, brown sugar, shallots, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, jalapenos and salt. Uncover the ribs and let them cool a bit, then toss them with the delicious Thai coconut sauce and marinate them in the refrigerator overnight. Note: Lemongrass is a key flavor component of this Thai marinade. If you’ve never used it before, see below for a few tips on how to cook with lemongrass.
- Grill The Ribs: Just before serving, remove the ribs from the marinade, transfer the remaining coconut BBQ marinade to a saucepan, bring it to a boil and pour it into a serving bowl or gravy boat. Set the ribs on a hot grill and cook them for 8 minutes, turning them halfway through, until they’re hot and have a beautiful golden brown crust. Serve the Thai BBQ ribs with delicious coconut barbecue sauce on the side.
HOW TO COOK WITH LEMONGRASS
Lemongrass is a tropical plant that’s very popular in Thai cooking. It adds an exotic, lemony flavor to a recipe. If you’ve never used it before, it can be challenging to figure out. The outer shell is very hard. But there are many layers and each one you peel off exposes one that is more tender underneath.
When you’re shopping for lemongrass, look for a firm long stalk. Cut off the lower root end and a few inches of the thin pointy end. Peel off one or two tough outer layers along the stalk. Then slice the stalk crosswise with a sharp knife. Lemongrass is extremely stringy and fibrous inside, so you’ll need a food processor or blender to further break it up.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THAI COCONUT BBQ RIBS
- Thai cucumber salad
- Japanese Potato Salad
- Chimichurri Broccoli Salad
- Moroccan Carrot Salad
- Butter Lettuce Salad with Citrus Honey Vinaigrette
Other Delicious Thai Dishes To Try:
Here’s the Thai Coconut BBQ Ribs Recipe. I’m excited for you to try this! If you do, I hope you’ll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I’d love to know what you think!Print
Thai Coconut BBQ Ribs
Barbecued baby back pork ribs with tantalizing Thai flavors. A great recipe for entertaining. Ribs are steamed and then marinated overnight so you can just throw them on the grill before serving. Grilling browns them and sears in the delicious flavors of the marinade.
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Marinating time: Overnight
- Cook Time: 8 mins
- Total Time: 12 hours 8 mins
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Grill
- Cuisine: Thai
- 2 racks of baby back pork ribs, cut into individual ribs
- 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (shake can before opening)
- 1/2 cup roughly-chopped cilantro, packed (stems included)
- 1/2 cup, packed, brown sugar
- 1/2 cup roughly-chopped shallots
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons roughly-chopped garlic (4–5 large cloves)
- 2 tablespoons roughly-chopped ginger root
- 2 stalks lemon grass, ends trimmed, tough outer layers peeled off, roughly chopped
- 1 large jalapeño pepper or two small, seeds and membranes removed, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pre-cook the ribs:
- Stove-top steaming Method: If you have a stovetop steamer, bring water to a boil under the steamer rack. Add ribs to steamer basket, cover and steam for 20 minutes. Uncover ribs and let them cool for 15 minutes or so.
- Oven-steaming Method: Preheat oven to 325ºF and set an oven rack in the center position. Line a large glass baking pan with foil. Arrange the ribs in the pan, curved side up, with a little space between them so they steam evenly. (you may need two pans to fit them all). Pour 1 1/2 cups water into the foil-lined pan. Cover the pan tightly with another sheet of foil. Steam the ribs for 1 hour, uncover ribs and let them cool at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
- Make the BBQ sauce/marinade: While the ribs are steaming and then cooling, put the rest of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and process for 30 seconds to a minute, until smooth.
- Marinate The Ribs Overnight: When the ribs are cool, put them in a large plastic container or non-reactive (glass) baking pan, pour the marinade on top and toss to coat. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
- Grill: Preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the ribs from the marinade and transfer the remaining marinade to a small saucepan, bring it to a boil, and transfer it to a serving bowl or gravy boat. Grill the ribs for 8 minutes or so, turning them a couple of times, until they’re heated through and golden brown.
- Serve the ribs with coconut barbecue sauce on the side.
Keywords: grilled pork ribs with coconut bbq sauce, Thai grilled baby back ribs
Originally published May 30, 2013. Updated June 16, 2021 with several new photos, added nutritional information, and clarifying details added to the written post and to the recipe. The same delicious recipe!